The East Asian Brandscape: The Globalization of Japanese Brands in the Age of Japanization

Oyama, Shinji. 2011. The East Asian Brandscape: The Globalization of Japanese Brands in the Age of Japanization. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is an attempt to think through a number of questions arising from the intense circulation of Japanese brands in East Asia, which I call the East Asian Brandscape, and, in doing so, produces an innovative conceptual framework to understand brands and branding.

The ubiquitous presence of American brands has been linked to Americanization, particularly Hollywood film’s global dominance, and is summarized in the phrase ‘trade follows the films’. Similarly, the East Asian brandscape has been linked to Japanization, an intense circulation of Japanese popular culture throughout the region, and may be summarized in the phrase ‘trade follows manga’. This Japanization discourse is based on the unsubstantiated assumption that the globalization of Japanese brands is closely linked to the presence (or the lack) of symbolic appeal of Japanese popular culture in a given market. This thesis investigates the largely understudied processes in which the globalization of Japanese brands is taking place in the context of Japanization through case studies on Japanese luxury cosmetics brands.

In the first section, ‘analysis from outside’, the thesis draws out a contour of the East Asian brandscape, which is shaped by large multinational corporations such as L’Oréal, Shiseido, and Estee Lauder. In global capitalism, brands are routinely exchanged across national borders by these corporations in order to manage and thrive on local differences. Drawing on Appadurai, this thesis argues that we need to understand brandscape as the organization of otherwise disjunctive scapes, rather than in the image of the Americanization model.

In the second section, ‘analysis from inside’, I explore the ways in which the branding is reformulated as the design and management of consumers’ experience in/through a great number of brand interfaces – material and immaterial – in which semantic and symbolic registers (such as Japan’s symbolic appeal) are engulfed in the overall affective ambience of brand experience. What is at stake in this reconfiguration, it is argued, is the unequal distribution of skills and finance resources across national borders required to global brand management, rather than distribution and consumption of national symbolic power. What emerge through the analysis of both outside and inside is a complex and contradictory relationship between Japanese brands and globalization that is no longer understood in a national framework.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Japan, brand and branding, East Asia, advertising, media, consumer culture, promotion, geography, intellectual property, globalization, Japanization, East Asian Popular Culture, experience, marketing, cosmetics, urban studies and affect

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


September 2011

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

02 May 2013 08:37

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:19


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